Government acts to remove incentive for longer boat journeys
Wednesday, 31 October 2012
The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, today moved to implement another recommendation of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers, introducing legislative changes to remove the incentive for asylum seekers to undertake especially risky boat journeys to the Australian mainland.
The Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals and Other Measures) Bill 2012 gives effect to recommendation 14 of the Expert Panel report, which recommended that boat arrivals should have the same legal status regardless of where they enter Australian territory.
'The government is committed to implementing the recommendations of the Expert Panel and giving people better options than risking their lives at sea,' Mr Bowen said.
'These changes remove the perverse incentive for people to take even greater risks by seeking to reach the Australian mainland to avoid being subject to regional processing arrangements.
'As the Expert Panel warned, such attempts would only amplify the dangers inherent in these perilous boat journeys.'
Under the existing legislative framework, people who arrive at excised offshore places - such as Christmas Island or the Cocos (Keeling) Islands - are subject to be taken to a designated country for regional processing. People who arrive at the Australian mainland are not currently subject to these provisions.
The proposed amendments mean a person will be subject to regional processing based on their status as an unauthorised maritime arrival, rather than the place of entry in Australia.
'The changes ensure there is one rule for all boat arrivals, as the Expert Panel recommended,' Mr Bowen said.
'At the same time, we are committed to putting in place an orderly migration which says to vulnerable people that there is a safer way of getting to Australia. That is why we have increased the Humanitarian Program to 20 000 places.
'But the message for people arriving by boat is clear: regardless of where you land, you risk being processed in Nauru or Papua New Guinea.
'To those contemplating the journey, I reiterate: the people smugglers are lying to you. It is not worth risking your life. There is no visa on arrival, there is no special treatment and there is no advantage given to those who come by boat.'
Last update: Wednesday, 31 October 2012 at 10:40 AEST